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02 MAY 2015

Aboriginal People's Relationship to Land

"Every different clan group has stories about their beginnings. Stories are like our archives, detailing how Creator Beings from under the earth arose to shape the land and to create the landscape. There are myriad variations of the story, but the theme stays the same.

The whole surface of the earth was like a moonscape, no features, no flora and fauna, just bare open plain. But there were Creator Beings sleeping in a state of potentiality just under the surface. At a certain time they were disturbed, whereupon their potentiality transformed into actuality and they arose out of the ground. When they finally emerged, they were very big and tall. These beings were spirit ancestors of many of the varieties of flora and fauna, especially large animals, in Australia. When this emergence was completed, the spirit ancestors started to interact with one another, fighting, dancing, running about, making love, killing. All of this activity shaped the Australian landscape as we know it today.

Throughout this period humans remained asleep in various embryonic forms, in a state like a kind of proto-humanity. They were awakened by all the activity above; the Creator Beings helped these proto-humans to become fully human, teaching them the Laws of custodianship of land, the Laws of kinship, of marriage, of correct ceremonies-they gave them every kind of knowledge they needed to look after the land and to have a stable society.

When this work was finished, the Creator Beings went back into the land, where they all still remain in the same eternal sleep from which they awakened at the beginning of time. The locations to which they returned have always been and are still today regarded as very important sacred sites.

Wherever the Creator Beings travelled, they left tracks or some kind of evidence of themselves. These traces determined the identity of the people. In other words, every Aboriginal person has a part of the essence of one of the original creative spirits who formed the Australian landscape. Therefore each person has a charter of custodianship empowering them and making them responsible for renewing that part of the flora and its fauna. The details of this metaphysics varied widely across the land with the physical environment, but the spiritual basis-the understanding that what separates humans from animals is the fact that each human bears a creative and spiritual identity which still resides in land itself-provided and still provides in many places the religious, social, political and economic force throughout Aboriginal Australia."

(Mary Graham, 2008)

Australian Humanities Review 45 (November 2008): "Mary Graham: Philosophical Underpinnings of Aboriginal Worldviews". This essay was originally published in Worldviews: Environment, Culture, Religion 3 (1999): 105-118.

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Aboriginal Australia • Aboriginal mythology • Aboriginal worldviews • ancestral beings • Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL) • Australian Humanities Review (AHR) • Australian landscape • beginnings • belonging • charter of custodianship • clan • clan group • creation narrative • creative and spiritual identity • Creator Beings • custodianship • customs • embryonic forms • eternal sleep • fauna • florafolkloreIndigenous Australians • Juanita Bailey • Kombu-merri person • landland custodianshiplandmarkslandscape • Lilla Watson • Lin Morrow • Mary Grahammetaphysics • open plain • origin mythphysical environment • potentiality • proto-human • proto-humanity • sacred sites • spirit ancestors • symbolic placetimeless time • under the earth • under the surface • worldview

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
13 JANUARY 2015

Hindu Creation Stories

"Most religions have a single creation story. Hinduism has many. This is because for Hindus there is no single creation, but periodic cycles of creation. The universe we live in is one of innumerable universes. Narrated by Gillian Anderson. Scripted by Nigel Warburton."

(BBC Radio 4)

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Ananta Sesha • BBC Radio 4belief • Bra (deity) • Brahma • Brahma (god) • Brahman • bull • calf • cobra • Cognitive • cowcreation narrative • creation stories • creation story • Creator Beingsdarkness • deity • Earth • Gillian Anderson • godsheavenHindu • Hinduism • Hindusim • history of ideashorse • innumerable universes • lotus flower • mare • meditationmultiplicityNigel Warburtonnothingnessorigin myth • periodic cycles of creation • religionserpent • Shiva (god) • skyspirituality • The Open University • universe • Vishnu (deity)

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
07 NOVEMBER 2014

Songlines: How Indigenous Australians Use Music to Mark Geography

"There are many different methods of pre–literate navigation that have been documented around the world. One of the most unique, a fusion of navigation and oral mythological storytelling, originated among the indigenous peoples of Australia, who navigated their way across the land using paths called songlines or dreaming tracks. In Aboriginal mythology, a songline is a myth based around localised 'creator–beings' during the Dreaming, the indigenous Australian embodiment of the creation of the Earth. Each songline explains the route followed by the creator–being during the course of the myth. The path of each creator–being is marked in sung lyrics. One navigates across the land by repeating the words of the song or re–enacting the story through dance, which in the course of telling the story also describe the location of various landmarks on the landscape (e.g. rock formations, watering holes, rivers, trees). In some cases, the paths of the creator–beings are said to be evident from their marks on the land (petrosomatoglyphs), such as large depressions in the land which are said to be their footprints (parallels can certainly be seen in some North American First Nation creation stories).

Songlines often came in sequences, much like a symphony or album today. By singing a song cycle in the appropriate order could navigate vast distances, often travelling through the deserts of Australia's interior (a fact which amazed early anthropologists who were stunned by Aborigines that frequently walked across hundreds of kilometres of desert picking out tiny features along the way without error). Each group had its own set of songlines that were passed from generation to generation so that future generations would know how to navigate when in neighbouring tribes' territories. The extensive system of songlines in Australia varied in length from a few kilometres to hundreds of kilometres in length crossing through lands of many different Indigenous peoples. Since a songline can span the lands of several different language groups, different parts of some songlines were in different languages corresponding to the region the songline was navigating through at the time, and thus could only be fully understood by a person speaking all of the languages in the song."

(The Basement Geographer, 21 October 2010)

Fig.1 "What are song lines?" Colin Jones, lecturer in Aboriginal History, talks about his culture, his history and his art. Queensland Rural Medical Education.

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Aboriginal mythologyancestral beings • ancestral heroes • animist belief systemAustralia • Colin Jones • creation narrative • creation spirits • Creator Beingscultural memory • cultural webs of memory • dreaming (spirituality) • dreaming tracks • earth motherFirst AustraliansFirst Nations • genii loci • geographical point • Indigenous Australians • kin-grouping system • kinship • landmarkslandscapelocationmappingmarkers • mythological storytelling • navigation systemnavigational methodsoral historiesorientationorigin myth • paths • petrosomatoglyph • place • point-to-point • pre-literate navigation • pre-literate societiessequences and spatial practisessmooth space • song cycle • songlinesspatial literacyspatial narrativespiritualitysymbolic placeterritorytimeless timetopology • totemic ancestors • voice map • watering holewayfinding

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
22 FEBRUARY 2010

The Maori Origin Myth

"The [Aotearoa New Zealand] Maori origin myth describes a world of darkness locked in the unyielding embrace of Ranganui, the Sky Father, and Papatuanuku, the Earth Mother with all their children (sea, forest, land, mountains, wind and rain) trapped between them. This inertia was shattered by Tane Mahuta, god of the forest, when he forcefully separated Papa and Rangi, thus liberating his siblings as well as their future descendants, freeing the light, and catalyzing the procreation of all life forms. Processes of differentiation and proliferation were then set in motion bound by mauri, the life force, imparting character (so that birds are birds and fish are fish), and uniting the physical and spiritual."

(Suzanne MacAulay, 'Field Aesthetics', Gathering/Place: Folklore, Aesthetic Ecologies, and the Public Domain)

Fig.1. Chris Matatahi & Peter Plumb. 'Maui's Dwelling Place', 1 metre tall. The whalebone is 79 cm long and 40 cm wide at the furthest points. The greenstone face is 21 cm tall and 13 cm wide at their furthest points. The base is NZ kauri wood and greenstone. Three paua pearls are inlaid in the upper area of the whalebone.

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2004Aotearoa New Zealandbirdscarving • Chris Matatahi • creation narrativeearth motherethnographyfish • folklife • folkloregodIndigenouskauri • life force • Maori • Maui • mauri • origin mythPacific • Papa • Papatuanuku • Peter Plumb • pounamu • Ranganui • Rangi • Sky Father • sperm whalebone • spiritual • Tane Mahuta • University of Pennsylvania

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
18 DECEMBER 2003

A Tamagotchi Creation Myth

"A tamagotchi is a 'cyber creature who has traveled millions of miles from its home planet to learn what life is like on earth' (Bandai 1996). These creatures were found by a professor and his assistant, Mikachu. The two built these creatures 'little egg–shaped protection cases so they could survive on earth'. If these lovely virtual creatures receive 'proper care and feeding', they will grow into 'different shapes and personalities' and may live on earth for as long as 31 years. One earth day is equal to about one year for tamagotchi. However, as soon as one 'wakes up' his or her tamagotchi 'from its million light–year sleep by removing the insulating sheet', constant attention has to be given to the tamagotchi (Bandai 1996). It does not matter if one is attending a meeting or if one is cooking, a tamagotchi will still beep at its owner for attention. And if it is ignored when it is in need, the tamagotchi will 'grow into an unattractive alien' and eventually 'return to its home planet', which is millions of miles away. But by pressing the reset switch on the back of the case, the leveling of timeline occurs – another tamagotchi wakes up from its million light–year sleep."

(Elaine Lai)

[Tamagotchi's were first released in Japan on November 23, 1996.]

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1996alien • Bandai Corporation • creationcreation narrativecyber creatureegg • egg-shaped • Japan • Maita • Mikachu • mythmythological creatureorigin myth • tamago • Tamagotchi • tomodatchi • transformationvideo gamevirtual animalvirtual creaturevirtual pet
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